It’s About Control

People often ask me about various government policies and why they persist even though they have been shown to have failed. The dirty little secret seems to be that those in power want to control the actions of the rest of us, regardless of whether those policies are “effective” in achieving the proscribed goal.

One recent story that came to my attention is from a school district in Chicago that is FORCING children into the school lunch program.  No lunch from home. In the area of school “nutrition” programs, it started years ago with the federal school lunch program for low-income children although the public schools have been effective in promoting obedience for years. First Lady Michelle Obama more recently took up the nutrition control cause as have legislators in New Mexico. The state knows what is best for your children, of course!

And, while I could go on, check out this Congressman’s (justified) rant on the CFL light bulbs which will effectively become mandatory soon. Mind you, this law was supported by many Republicans (including Sen. Domenici) and signed by George W. Bush. The idea that the federal government should tell Americans what type of light bulb to use is just silly and of course found nowhere in the Constitution. But, it again controls our behavior and extracts obedience.

What’s the point? There is an ever-growing number of people who derive their wealth from the labor of the rest of us. They NEED us to think that we need them to tell us what to do. We don’t. Waking up to that fact is the clearest path to freedom.

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4 Replies to “It’s About Control”

  1. Government and bureaucracy “take on a life of their own”. Those of us (professionals, tradesmen, and entrepreneurs of all sorts) who feel a calling and just want to be left alone to “ply our trades”, don’t want to be bothered (in many cases) to “police” their own “spheres of influence”. Hence professionals who organize associations to “share” experiences, drink and play golf together, but “back away” from chastizing obvious unethical or inept behavior of any of their colleagues. The next step is to sanction licensure, which is a “threshhold” for government to “oversee” services and commerce. But the Boards are comprised of the very professionals who choose to play and party rather than attend the best interests of the profession — maybe the most derelict of those in many cases because they, in one way or another, are nominated and selected by the “heartiest of the partiers”.

    Enter the “lawgivers” — in some cases the most learned of the professionals who perceive a need to “outlaw” the most flagrant of violations of professional practice and to mandate minimum standards of performance for the profession. The idea is to publish the “what to do’s” for the benefit of the profession. These lawgivers do research and write textbooks and are enlightened to needs of the profession. But the next “layer” of lawgivers are not so enlightened. They perceive an opportunity to develop a “sphere of power” by writing Codes and Manuals of conduct and the like — motivated by the need to control and the need to publish, rather than the need to practice the profession. They, like their counterparts in the legal profession, pervert the “what to do” into “how to do it”. Just as the idea that legal decisions cannot be made without credible precedents, design decisions cannot be made without hard-and-fast definitions, standard detailing, etc. They develop rules and requirements (Codes), many of which were never needed by the profession, and make a living by constantly tightening and refining those rules and re-publishing the rules “ad nauseum” — so that the Codes become so complicated and convoluted that they become tantamount to the IRS and the tax “code” to the point that they must be interpreted by the most “learned” of the profession.

    Now that the profession has become mired in its own ineptitude, it is “ripe for government to step in”. Professionals seek employment in government — such employment carrying with it the benefit of regulation. What may have appeared to be a “logical progression” has turned out to be abdication of professionalism by the professionals themselves. The Code writers have gained almost absolute control over design decisions, and the government professionals produce “standard details” in the name of “public safety”. And non-government professionals must now “compete” with their government counterparts — who regulate what they do and exist and flourish by virtue of the tax dollars which are extracted from them. To produce something which does not comply with the pedantic one-size-fits-all standards (even though perfectly safe and perhaps trivial in magnitude) can be rejected by the government regulators, and perhaps pronounced as “mal-practice” by Code writers, government professionals, and licensure appointees alike.

    At this point, there is no doubt that innovation is at an end for every decision-making endeavor which has not yet been reduced to standard details and practices and “enforcement checklists” developed so that even non-professional “drop outs” can implement such enforcement. How much further can “the end of all freedom” be?

    Gary L. Graham

    Note: The author is a Professional Engineer, and the above scenario has already befallen the engineering profession — from inept licensure practices and enforcement to unnecessarily complicated Building Codes to State employed engineers, and (in the case of the Construction Industries Division) non-engineers who have enforcement and regulation over non-government design professionals. Add similar regulation and enforcement for doctors, realtors, cosmeticians, etc., etc., and what do we have? We have government “meddling” in facets of society which are not mandated by the Constitution. And the expansion of government benefits the government first — buying votes, providing employment for wasteful “paper shufflers”, and exercising unintended control of “the few” over “the many”.

  2. Examining the issue from a different point of view. government programs instituted years ago continue, but why?

    Do the dairy support programs brought into being in 1934 work today?

    Not very well because the ethanol programs demand corn, so corn prices go up.

    But dairy farmers need corn to feet their cows. And the profit margins for many dairy farmers are sharpy depressed because of the high cost of feed.

    A probable government response will be to raise the price of milk to the consumer to try to allow the dairy farmers make money.

    Alternatively, our government might use sugar cane for ethanol, as is done in Brazil, or even import ethanol from Brazil.

    Don’t forget that New Zealand ended their government dairy supports in 1984 and their dairy industry is doing very, very well.

  3. The bipartisan light bulb mandate is one of the reasons I became involved in politics. It is micromanagement at its worst.

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